Think Like a Coffee Pioneer

What does it take to be a pioneer in an industry that is constantly evolving? At Let’s Talk Coffee, the global coffee event held recently in September, in Cartagena, Colombia, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel of Coffee Pioneers—three passionate women who have led and inspired others through their innovative actions in the coffee industry.

The Coffee Pioneer panelists included:

  • Sandra Palacios, manager of the 65-member Colombian Fair Trade Organic coffee cooperative, Cooagronevada
  • Maria Reyes of Coocentral, coffee farm owner and entrepreneur from Colombia.
  • Agnieszka Rojewska, reigning 2018 World Barista Champion and trainer, and also the first woman to hold the title after 18 years.

As pioneers, these three women have followed their dreams, taking risks along the way and continue to lead the path in creating today’s quality coffee experiences. Interested in creating a better coffee experience for your customers? Here are a few key takeaways from the panel.

There’s always something new to learn: Coffee pioneers are constantly learning, innovating and looking at things from a different perspective. Agnieszka Rojewska said, “The moment I start to think I might understand coffee, the coffee shows me that I don’t. Day by day, I learn something new, that I can do something a different way.”

  • Rally for someone: Coffee pioneers establish partnerships in their communities. Maria Reyes talked about being a role model for others, especially the women coffee farmers in her community.
  • Innovate: Creating new ideas and approaches is a key characteristic of a pioneer. For example, the terms, “creative,” “persistent,” “dedicated” and “entrepreneurial” have all been used to describe these three panelists.
  • Build bridges: Connecting with others strengthens the mission of leading and inspiring. We need to put our passion to use for the service of others, and these women represent that.
  • Go global: A coffee’s flavor can vary based on where it was sourced. Get creative when developing your coffee program and look to different origins around the world to bring your customers a one-of-a-kind coffee experience.
  • Share your passion: Demonstrate your passion for sourcing and serving high-quality, sustainably sourced coffee. Many of today’s customers are eager to learn the story behind their favorite cup of coffee. As a barista, Agnieszka Rojewska was able to communicate passion and authenticity after visiting the countries of origin and meeting the people who make it possible for her to do what she does. “With that comes power and responsibility—to make coffee that tastes the best it can.”

These are just a few of the key takeaways that demonstrate the passion and expertise of these three coffee pioneers. From sustainability to innovation, there are many factors that go into creating a successful coffee program. For these women, being able to showcase what it takes to create that perfect cup of coffee is essential and what drives them to continue to create positive change in this industry.